It’s difficult to believe now, but there was a time when post-thrash, groove orientated hardcore edged metal was fresh! Few will not be familiar with Pantera, but Exhorder were also genre pioneers, leading to a chicken/ egg conundrum that I doubt has ever been answered. Their debut album, Slaughter In The Vatican (1990) ruffled feathers with its title, artwork and power-heavy-death-tinged riffing while their sophomore offering The Law (1992) laid down the dominant grooves that have inspired generations since.
Sadly, Exhorder split in 1993 and while others achieved mainstream success, when they reformed in 2008 it was only for a few short years. But now they’re back with a vengeance. Following rave live reviews from the revamped band in early 2018, a new album has dropped and it is most impressive indeed.
With founding members Vinnie LaBella (lead guitar) and Kyle Thomas (those vocals) at the helm, they are joined by previous live bassist Jason VieBrooks (Heathen, Grip Inc. and tribute bass desginer to Peter Steele [Type O-Negative] for Esh bass guitars. Completing the line-up are Marzi Montazeri (Heavy As Texas, Philip H. Anselmo & The Illegals) and Sasha Horn (Forbidden.)
Thomas has said
“As much of an honor it is to hear so many of our peers, predecessors, and disciples rain accolades down upon us, nothing takes the place of being out on the stage yourself. Sweating and fighting it out by pouring your entire soul upon the stage for all to see is a special bond between band and audience. No compliment or credit from outsiders could ever replace that. To be able to return to that specific moment and also create new music to share with the world is the payoff. Everyone had better get used to us pretty soon, because we’ve got a lot left to say.”
Mourn The Southern Skies is a refreshing, but more mature sound than what preceded it. Retaining the old-school thrash ‘n groove that’s unlikely to please your Grandmother but without the puerile and offensive for the sake of it shock rockers (Anal Lust, for example) of the time. More refined, but no less metal!
My Time is more than a title, it is a statement. More of a fact, in actuality. From the outset it is a declaration of intent. Engaging, exhilarating and inherently relatable. If you are in a dead end job, do not pay attention to the lyrics- simply concentrate on the dual shredding beast that is LaBella and Montazeri… I did warn you. Now check it out!
Asunder is an absolute blinder of a track, with jazz /funk flourishes heavy beats, epic guitar work and the percussion really sings out. Less ferocious, but still far more brutal than most. Hallowed Sound is an old school headbanger of a groovy behemoth. That hallowed sound from deep within the ground is dark, disconcerting, discordant and above all desirable. The pace picks up as we resume a speedier territory for Beware the Wolf while Yesterday’s Bones is a sludgier, grungier stomper of an affair with the most unexpectedly melodic end. All She Wrote returns the listener to familiar headbanging territories, revitalising and bracing with a deliciously speedy stoner vibe from the dual bass. Rumination, would typically lead you to expect something quiet and thoughtful. Not Exhorder. This is a raging reflection, now take your medication and take a new direction… The darkly ominous and undulating Arms of Man may be slower in tempo, but there is no rest: while this monster prowls. Ripping Flesh is a re-recorded version from their 1986 demo and it’s a blissful reworking of a thrashy punkier affair into a certain pit-starter, while the title track closes the album with aplomb
Mourn the Southern Skies is mind bending. Strings open the track, with a symphonic leaning. Who knew that 1992’s (Cadence Of) The Dirge could possibly be topped? Slower paced, dirgey , complex and convoluted it is breathtaking. At over nine minutes long, is it verging on prog? The presence of a B3 Hammond organ, does this make it jazz? Melodic yet sombre, with soaring vocals and hidden depths, it is colossal.
A ripping comeback! If you are expecting Slaughter II or even The Law II, you may well be disappointed. If however you love quality thrash, speed metal with deep grooves and no pretence;. Metal, with elements of death, stoner and even punky funk with a wisdom and wit to rival most releases: give Mourn The Southern Skies a spin. No regrets
“You can plot and scheme for years, even decades (as is in our case). You can work hard, keep grinding, bang the square peg in the round hole until it looks somewhat presentable. But sometimes you just need to let time tell you, it’s time. EXHORDER has its own soul. And it pokes me in the ribs ever so often as if to remind me, ‘Hey asshole, we ain’t done yet!’ Kyle and myself had a dream as teenagers. And as cliche as it may seem, we never woke up from it. EXHORDER has always crept in and out of our lives. So no magic bullet or formula here. It was only a simple matter of time before the right guys, the right songs, the right manager/label would finally come to the party. It’s been damn near 35 years since we first uttered the name, EXHORDER. 27 years since our last record, and a whole lot of breaking up and making up in between. So why is this time different? Why start again at 50 years of age instead of retiring? Simple… because it’s finally, TIME!”
Mourn the Southern Skies is available now and can be purchased here.
- My Time
- Hallowed Sound
- Beware the Wolf
- Yesterday’s Bones
- All She Wrote
- Arms of Man
- Ripping Flesh
- Mourn the Southern Skies
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